St. Anthony the Abbot was a hermit and early monk who lived in seclusion in Egypt’s desert with animals as his only companions. St. Anthony the Abbot’s believed strongly in man’s responsibility to protect otherwise defenseless domesticated animals.
St. Anthony also changed ancient man’s perception of the pig as a dirty animal with ties to the devil, to edible livestock, much to the future happiness of Oscar Meyer. Consequently in art, St. Anthony the Abbot is commonly seen between a dog and a pig.
The indigenous here believed strongly in the equilibrium between man and the natural world and readily accepted St. Anthony the Abbot’s thoughts on man’s responsibilities to domestic animals.
St. Anthony the Abbot is not to be confused with the much later St. Anthony of Padua for whom the colonia San Antonio is named and Dia de Locos is celebrated in honor of. St. Anthony the Abbot has a street in centro named for him and is celebrate on January 17th with animal blessing being held around town. Locations vary but the blessings are most commonly held at the Parroquia, the Oratorio, San Antonio and San Juan de Dios.
Blessing are for pets and farm animals of every shape and kind, from cats, dogs, birds and turtles, to hens, rabbits, ducks, and burros are brought to the churches to be blessed by the priest. This moving ceremony is believed to keep evil spirits away from the home and land. The concept is tied to the pre-Hispanic customs of celebrating animal fertility and regeneration of the fields between the winter solstice and summer equinox.
By Joseph Toone
Joseph Toone is the Historical Society’s short-story award winning author of the SMA Secrets book series. All books in the series are Amazon bestsellers in Mexican Travel and Holidays. Toone is SMA’s expert and TripAdvisor’s top ranked historical tour guide telling the stories behind what we do in today’s SMA. Visit HistoryAndCultureWalkin